Core rights threatened by counter-extremism bid, says UN terror expert

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Ben Emmerson, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. Photo: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The global push to counter violent extremism carries "hidden risks" which threaten fundamental liberties, the UN Human Rights Council heard Thursday.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said he feared that the recent rise of initiatives at a national level are too simplistic and potentially overly repressive.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva.

Speaking to the UN Human Rights Council, Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson noted an "exponential" rise in national strategies to counter violent extremism in the last three years.

They've come into being with the realization that a heavy-handed security approach to terrorists has not prevented the emergence of even more violent groups.

Preventing violent extremism is the focus of UN Security Council Resolution 2178, and of the UN Secretary-General's Plan of Action, launched in January.

While he welcomed both initiatives, Special Rapporteur Emmerson expressed concern that the absence of an international definition of extremism has encouraged some states to implement highly intrusive measures.

"A number of states have already used the concept of extremism as a component element in a criminal offence."

Emmerson went on to say that state approaches to countering violent extremism could see non-violent speech criminalized, people's movement restricted and individuals' digital privacy threatened.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1’00″

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